In October 2016, the archdiocese launched the voluntary Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP), part of its ongoing effort to renew its contrition to those who suffered sexual abuse as a minor by a priest or deacon of the archdiocese, and to bring a sense of healing to the victim-survivors.
Throughout the past year, 189 victim-survivors of abuse have resolved their claims through the IRCP and have received, collectively, $40,050,000 in compensation.
The archdiocese, through a report on the IRCP released Dec. 7, said it is grateful to the more than 200 victim-survivors who came forward to participate in the program and that it renews to them, and to all victim-survivors, “our sorrow and shame at what they were forced to endure.”
The Church has entered the season of Advent, the period of penance and reflection to prepare to both celebrate the birth of Jesus and to look forward to His coming at the end of time. “In that spirit of contrition,” the archdiocese said, “we offer this update to you, the faithful of the archdiocese, on the results of the IRCP and our efforts to do all that we can to protect children and provide a safe environment for all.”
The report outlines the IRCP’s progress, reviews significant strides the archdiocese has made in dealing “vigorously” with clergy accused of abuse of minors, and in preventing acts of abuse through the Safe Environment programs.
While the IRCP enrollment process has now concluded, a number of claims remain in process, and determinations about those claims will be made in the coming weeks and months.
Throughout the process, victim-survivors made clear they are not solely interested in money, but instead are seeking some tangible sign of the Church’s desire for healing and reconciliation, according to the archdiocese.
“The archdiocese prays that this outreach helps bring peace and consolation to victim-survivors who have experienced the horror of abuse and is grateful that many report such healing.”
The archdiocese is financing IRCP compensation through a long-term loan. It said it did not and will not use money donated to parishes, schools or charitable organizations, nor money given to the Cardinal’s Annual Stewardship Appeal, the new capital campaign Renew + Rebuild, or money given by donors to fund specific programs, apostolates or ministries.
The archdiocese acknowledged that, throughout the last two decades, the Catholic Church in the United States has made documented progress in dealing with the crime of sexual abuse, especially since the implementation of the landmark Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People nearly 15 years ago which calls for zero tolerance for guilty clergy, with removal from all ministry; full cooperation with law enforcement; public announcement of offenders; comprehensive child safety education, with ongoing monitoring of compliance of safe environment, and background checks.
Safe Environment Program
According to the archdiocese, the comprehensive child protection program, known as the Safe Environment Program, in all of the archdiocese’s parishes, schools and programs, includes the following:
• Every year, every (arch) diocese is audited by Stonebridge Partners to make certain it is “in compliance” with the Charter. The Archdiocese of New York is consistently certified “compliant” and has designed and implemented additional safe environment programs that go beyond the requirements of the Charter. For example, the archdiocese has hired former law enforcement officers from various agencies with experience in sexual abuse units to conduct regular spot-checks of parishes and schools to make certain they are adhering to the safe environment policies.
• To date, the archdiocese has conducted more than 126,000 background checks and has provided safe environment training to more than 110,000 individuals, including age-appropriate training to children in Catholic schools and religious education programs. All seminarians, deacons and priests of the archdiocese have received safe environment training and undergone a background check, as have all priests and deacons from religious orders or other dioceses working in the Archdiocese of New York. The archdiocese also runs repeat background checks on employees and volunteers so that it does not miss a problem that may have arisen since the initial check.
Child protection efforts include the following:
Child Safety Policies
The archdiocese has a comprehensive Policy on Sexual Misconduct that was fully updated in 2016, bringing its policies up to date to address a wider range of issues and situations, and to clarify procedures by which it handles allegations of misconduct, it said.
The Safe Environment Office has a detailed policy manual that governs the implementation of the child safety requirements. The policies address a multitude of situations in which child safety is implicated, e.g., online behavior, overnight trips and acceptable professional boundaries.
Annual Audit Results
Each year, the archdiocese undergoes an audit to determine its compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The audit is conducted by outside auditors under the supervision of an independent National Review Board established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The archdiocese, in December 2016, was found to be in full compliance with the Charter for the 13th consecutive time.
To access the full report online, in English and Spanish, go to: